BENGALURU: As the clock closed in on 2021, we let out the customary whoop, high-fived from a distance and shook elbows, wishing everyone a happy and prosperous year. And a safe one. At the back of our minds, we knew we were well and truly Omicronned; the coronavirus has followed us right into the New Year, and set us up on the next wave, with a new variant. The virus had said boo to the vaccine.
It’s time to restrict ourselves once again to the white squares outside the department store — now freshly repainted. Time to retreat into the safety of our homes, pull up those masks and slather on sanitiser — whether we are vaxxed or not. It’s time to go back to online classes, set up workstations, and bake and post our Cordon Bleu pictures. Just when we thought that we had left behind a brutal year, the world has come full circle, still in the tentacles of the virus.
Public mood, though, belies this reality. The crowds are out in force, having forgotten the losses of 2021, which continue to loom large: loss of health, life, wealth and happiness. Also loss of freedom — to roam, shop, meet friends, eat out, party, travel... The freedom to think beyond horizons. Will there ever be a return to normalcy?
Stop fretting, and get on with life, snapped the daughter. A virtual life can be quite as fulfilling. As a millennial, she should know — her life revolves around laptop and mobile, her world is full of possibilities — peopled by intrepid investors creaming the crypto market and making small piles of fortune. And digital artists dealing with NFTs. And kids taking college breaks to follow their virtual dreams. To me, making money from something intangible is still a dark mystery — crypto is too cryptic, so are the intricacies of fungibles and tokens. If I must straddle this new world, I need to start learning a new vocabulary.
Theirs is a parallel world, and they seem to be already hardwired to handle the gravitational shift brought about by the pandemic. Whatever the virus throws at them, they dodge and find solutions. Group calls, gaming teams, logging into movies simultaneously, alone yet together. Connected. And definitely not ready to miss out on life’s little pleasures.
It may be a young, rootless culture, but it is adaptable and admirable. Custom-made for the new order of things. Hire a car, hire a rider, hire a meeting slot, hire office space, hire a delivery person... pay, use and keep moving. No full stops in their life. Ready to say boo to the virus.